KEEPING IN STEP WITH GOD FROM PASSOVER TO PENTECOST
As Christians, we do not have to keep Jewish feasts as they did in the Old Testament. However, we must be open to learn what they represent for us today. God calls these feasts His feasts, not Jewish feasts and He calls us to always remember them. They are His appointed times, times when He breaks into our world with His miraculous power.
The church teaches a lot about Passover and how it foreshadows Jesus’ death on the cross to set us free, to bring us out of situations where we have been oppressed and kept down. It also teaches a lot about Pentecost, the day the church began with an awesome display of God’s power. However, it doesn’t teach much about the unique season which falls in between. Here is a period of 50 days where God commanded the Israelites to ‘Count the Omer.’
The Omer is sheaf of wheat. Counting the Omer is a very important principle and commandment in the Biblical calendar and requires 50 days of obedience. The Jewish people are to do this every year and it is the longest continuous observance of any commandment in the Bible so we should take note of it. If God asks us to do something every year for 50 days, there must be something very important for us to learn and experience.
Becoming a free person is the beginning of everything. Until we are free, we aren’t able to fulfil our destiny. An Omer is a measure of wheat or barley, the first fruit of the harvest. The farmers used to go into the fields after Passover and tag all the visible buds. They went out to the field every day to water these buds and nurture them so that they would grow into ripe fruit or grains – the first fruit. Then at Pentecost, they brought these first fruits to the temple to present them as an offering to the Lord. God promised that if we brought these first fruits to Him, He would bless us with a bountiful harvest.
Let’s look at Leviticus 23 v 15-16
And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.
In Exodus 23 v 19
The first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.
The next part of the verse is dealing with pagan idolatrous practices and God is warning us not to keep these practices but bring our first fruits to Him. In other words, we are to invest our efforts into what God has given us.
We are all created in the image of our Creator God, we have all been given some form of creativity, some gifts and talents. They were put in us right from when we were in our mother’s womb. You can read about this in Psalm 139 v 13-16. These gifts are like the buds in the field that the farmers had to water. You all have been chosen, you all have a destiny, and you all have gifts inside you that you may have yet to discover.
During this time of the coronavirus, many people are not able to work, they are discovering old and new hobbies and forms of creativity which they may not have had time for before. I do not think this is a coincidence, I think it is God’s wake up call to the world to look inside ourselves and discover the beauty God has already put within us. Many with gifts to sew are helping to make gowns and masks for the NHS. There are others who are called to work hard to care for the sick and help feed the nation, could they be developing the fruits of the Spirit?
In a field of wheat, there will always be weeds trying to choke the sheaves. What are the weeds in our lives? Nothing will hinder the gifts God has given us more than a bad character or a bad attitude. During this time of global difficulty, what is in our hearts will come to the surface, the good and the bad, now is the time to work on these things. Spending this time every year to focus on the fruits of the Spirit will develop integrity. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, you can find this teaching in Galatians chapter 5 v 16-26. It is a time to pull into God in a new way, each of us will be in a different situation and a different season in our lives. One size does not fit all! Ask God to show you who you are, what gifts He has given you and what He wants you to work on.
God is the Lord of the harvest, but who is the lord of your first fruits? It is YOU! What you do with your first fruits will determine what God will do with the harvest. Jesus teaches this in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 14-30. Those that bury their talents will receive nothing, those who invest in them, will be given more and more.
God has a divine order, as we can see in Exodus 4 v 22
Israel is My son, My firstborn.
That means that Israel and the Jewish nation are the first fruits. They are no better than us, we are all equal, but it was through them we had the Gospel, it was through them we had Jesus, for Jesus was Jewish. Jesus is called the first fruits of the resurrection.
Israel failed, but this was only so that the other nations could also be saved. We are to pray for and love Israel and the Jewish nation, they are a gift to us and we must honour them for what they have given to us.
Romans 11 v 15
For if their rejection released the reconciling power of grace into the world, what would happen when Israel is reinstated and reconciled to God? It will unleash resurrection power throughout the whole world.
Honouring our Jewish roots will bring the miraculous power that we saw at Pentecost. Every one of Jesus’ disciples were Jewish, they all kept the feasts of God. What did they do after the death of Jesus, they were kept inside an upper room and told to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and empower them to carry the Good News of the Kingdom of God to the world. What is happening to us at the moment?
Many of us are stuck in our homes waiting for the pandemic to pass, but what if this is God’s way to get us to fulfil ‘Counting the Omer.’
There has been huge antisemitism around the world and especially in our own country recently. Throughout all this upheaval with Brexit, we are now addressing this issue. Will this be a key to a flourishing United Kingdom once more?
There are lots of things to think about, I do not have all the answers but all I know is if we honour and nurture our first fruits, we will see a harvest, it is God’s promise to all of us.
May God continue to heal our land.
Take a look at this poem: